Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

You've Got To Fight Dirty To Take On OCPD

Feeling weak and powerless isn't just about body size and strength.
A pattern I've noticed among those who love a partner with OCPD, when they finally have that light bulb moment, is first, a tremendous feeling of relief.  Wow, that's what this is!  It's not me - and it's not really him/her either.  It's a mental disorder.

Then there's hope, which is sometimes deflated when those who've been battling for a while tell them how hard this is.  And a certain discounting of how hard it might be.  Surely that's an exaggeration.  Or, maybe it was like that for them, but it won't be like that for us.  I know my partner really loves me.

There's also a dismissal of certain tactics, because they seem... mean.  Setting firm boundaries.  Refusing to accept bad treatment, even for a moment.  Refusing to JADEShouldn't we ease into this?  I know s/he can be reasonable at times.  I don't know if I can hold my ground.

If you truly want to help your partner with OCPD, you've got to realize that succumbing to pity when s/he is "under the influence" of OCPD behavior, telling yourself that s/he can't help her/himself doesn't work.  Yes, understand it's not deliberate, and yes, feel sorry for the person with OCPD, but you need to get fightin' mad at OCPD, the disorder.

A person with OCPD can't help the compulsions, the anxiety, the way s/he feels inside.  But s/he can learn to stop the behaviors - if s/he really wants to.  Bad habits can be broken, and good habits can be formed.

For myself, what helped was imagining that OCPD was an evil crack-whore third wheel to our relationship.  If it had been me and the b-f, we could have worked things out just fine, but OCPD-the-crack-whore didn't want us to work things out.  She wanted my b-f to herself, so she could run things her way, and get her next fix, though like all junkies, the more fixes she got, the more she wanted, and the shorter time it would be till her next fix.

OCPD, like a true alcoholic or junkie, will do anything, say anything (and probably mean it) to get that next fix.  The only effective way to fight is to not get sucked into that rabbit-hole of distorted thinking, to maintain our own clarity, and be willing to do whatever we have to do to defend the boundaries and yes, to be "mean" if we have to.

There are two songs that come to mind" Alice Cooper's No More Mr. Nice Guy, and this one, that you not have heard:
The title cut, Fight Dirty, from Charlie in 1979

lyrics by Terry Thomas
I've been a nice guy too long, I must make myself strong
Gotta make myself harder than nails
I've been learning real quickly, there's no-one gonna trick me
If the try, well they surely will fail

Gonna learn to fight dirty, ain't no-one gonna hurt me
I'll soon know every trick of the trade

When I think of the times I've been cheated
And the times that I've been badly treated - it makes me mad
Tried to keep all my options wide open
All I get are those promises broken - it makes me mad
And it makes me so sad that I've got to change

I've been cornered and now I will fight back
Gonna push, gonna watch all those smiles crack - I'll make them mad
I will show all those people no favours
I have finished with my best behaviour - I'll make them mad
But it makes me so sad that I've got to change

I've been a nice guy too long, now I know I've been wrong
I've been used and I've just realised
All that haze has been lifted, I'm no longer restricted
Oh, the nice guy you knew has just died
No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert A. Glover is another book highly recommended by many male partners of OCPD wives and girlfriends.  (See the GoodReads bookshelves on the right for recommendations for books already read and on the to-be-read list.)

Begging bullies, "Please don't kick sand in my face," never worked for anyone, and it doesn't work with OCPD, either.  But just like building up the body, you can (and must) build up your relationship muscles, and refuse to let OCPD beat you up anymore.  Your mental/emotional muscles will take time and energy to develop, and if you're like a lot of partners, at the end of your rope, you might feel like you don't have it in you.  The pay-off is being better emotionally developed, with better boundaries, is not wasted effort, but will pay off in every aspect of your life.

Will it save your relationship?

In all honesty, probably not.  It didn't save mine, and I know very few people who have managed a long-term "successful" relationship with an OCPD partner. It's still your best shot.

After all, how's what you've been doing working out for you?

Sometimes I wonder, if I'd known about OCPD earlier on, if I'd begun enforcing boundaries and practicing not JADEing before I was physically and emotionally spent, might it have made a difference?  Possibly.  I have to say, the year I spent with my (now) ex after learning about OCPD and "fighting dirty" was substantially better for both of us.

But the behaviors didn't disappear, and I reached a point where I wasn't willing to live with the hoarding, the OCPD, and he wasn't willing to get professional help.  I needed and realized I deserved, to have a home where I felt emotionally safe, not on constant guard for the next attack.  My only regret is his choice to refuse help, not mine to leave.

I truly hope your story has a different ending.

Please share your feedback, and any experience with "Fighting Dirty", 
in the comments, below.